Hiking · National Parks in US · Travel · Vacations

Yosemite National Park: Now and Then….

Yosemite National Park is one of our favorite places to visit in California. I know I have said this a gazillion times but this is what comes to my mind every single time I sit to write about Yosemite. Our first visit to Yosemite was way back in 2006 during Thanksgiving break and our latest in June of 2015. Yosemite is a place for all seasons and for all ages. All our previous trips to Yosemite were either camping trips or hiking trips which did not require a lot of planning when it came to reservations. But last year, when a friend asked us if we wanted to book the Yosemite lodge for this year since it would be more convenient staying in a lodge rather than camping or staying at Curry Village, especially with babies, we agreed and got reservations at the Yosemite Lodge for the first week of June. And I am so glad we did! I was able to see Yosemite in a whole new way..So here’s Yosemite for you: Now and Then…
YOSEMITE NOW (Year 2015)

On our way to Yosemite, I told my son he was going to see waterfalls and he picked up the word so quickly that we heard ‘waterfallls.. waterfalls..waterfalls..” a million times. Okay, I am exaggerating but the point is that it worked and it kind of made him look forward to the trip. One of the advantages of staying at the Lodge is we could walk to Yosemite Falls! On our trip to Yosemite back in 2009, we climbed up the rocks at the Lower Falls and went as high as up we could go. Fast forward to 2015, we were running around after my 18 month old to make sure he did not cross even a single rock. It’s surprising how parenthood changes you! Of course, M, N and I will definitely climb to the top of the falls once he grows up a little. For now happiness is at the base of the falls 🙂

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When folks ask us “What do you do when you go to Yosemite?”, the answer is always the same: Hike! But this time around it was going to be slightly different. We were a group of 5 families with 5 toddlers in the mix so we had to pick activities other than hard core hiking. We did the usual strolls and the walks, but here are a couple of things that we enjoyed doing on this trip with N.

Yosemite Valley Moonlight tour: We signed up for the nightly open bus valley tour along with a bunch of other friends. It’s a two-hour long tour which begins at 9 pm. Everyone is asked to dress up warmly and carry blankets, especially with babies. N was extremely excited at first because he thought he was riding in a dump truck. He started with saying bye-bye to the moon and trees. Eventually he dozed off. We really enjoyed the tour and some of the highlights were viewing the climbers at El Capitan in the moonlight. We could only see their head lights but it was stupendous! There are a couple of stops where you are allowed to get down (Tunnel view before Glacier Point and the Swinging Bridge). The skies were glowing with stars and the view from the Tunnel Point Vista was surreal. We could see the Half Dome in the background. Truly picturesque! Since I was holding N in my arms, I did not get down at any of the stops but all in all it was a fun tour.

Glacier Point Tunnel View - MoonLight tour of Yosemite Valley
Yosemite NOW – Glacier Point Tunnel View : MoonLight tour of Yosemite Valley (June 2015)
El Captain View from Moonlight tour - Spot the climbers (a.k.a their headlights)
Yosemite Now – El Captain View from Moonlight tour, spot the climbers (a.k.a their headlights) (June 2015)
Biking: The last morning of our 3 day trip, we rented bikes, my son calls them “bikal” – still don’t know if it’s a mix of bike + cycle or if he just skips the ‘see’ when trying to say bicycle (by-see-kal). Anyhow, once the bike trailers were loaded with tiny passengers, we set out. It took me more time to get used to the bikes than my little one in the trailer. Having learnt how to ride a bike in India, I tend to pedal backwards when I don’t need to accelerate. Here when you pedal backwards, it acts as a brake. I find that so annoying and it always has me on the edge every single time we rent a bike.

YOSEMITE BACK THEN (Years 2006 through 2014)

Although I have shared a couple of stories previously, for anyone that missed reading it, here goes the list our exciting Yosemite Stories 🙂

Car lockout Thanksgiving 2006: Our first trip to Yosemite was unforgettable, because 5 of us got locked out of our car on our way to Tenaya Lake at a random vista point and it started snowing. Our jackets were in the locked trunk, and we only had 2 phones with minimal battery with us. Ranger calls, waiting for AAA, rescue by a family from San Diego, and a white Thanksgiving! How can it not be memorable 🙂 Read more about it here.

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Driving a car with almost failed brakes and a lost campsite: Back in 2007, we camped at June Lake which is at the other side of Yosemite valley (toward Mammoth Lakes). Gorgeous scenery and secluded locations, but here’s the fun story associated with the trip. Ever reached a wrong camp location because it was pitch dark and GPS signals were pretty bad in the national park? And then forced someone out of their designated campsite? Well, we’ve done that!!! Not only did we end up staying at a different campsite than the one where we had our reservation at, but we also set up our tent at 11 in the night because we had to drive a rented car on the windy roads with almost failed brakes 😦 The entire next day was spent in Mammoth Lakes trying to get the broken car fixed. We hardly spent time inside the valley, but the story definitely comes up on all our Yosemite trips. Read more about it here.

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The Vernal/Nevada Hike: 5 of us hiked to the top of Nevada Falls via Vernal Falls back in 2009. This was a practice run to see if we had it in us to hike the Half Dome some day. I can say this has been my only trip where we things didn’t go a bit haywire.

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The Epic Half Dome Hike: 7 of us hiked to the top of Half Dome back in 2011. I have no idea how I pulled this one! But it will be a story I will cherish my entire life. Read more about it here.

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Be it our 2006 White Thanksgiving trip or our 2011 Half Dome trip or our 2015 trip with the kiddos, they have all been memorable. I heart Yosemite National Park. I will end this the same way I began: Yosemite National Park is INDEED one of our favorite places to visit in California 🙂
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